Chopping ice with a baseball bat

A woman shovels the front porch roof during a rare January warm spell in Duluth
A woman shovels the front porch roof during a rare January warm spell in Duluth.

At first I thought the woman on the roof was using her baseball bat as a cane.

Then she started pounding.

She pounded on the front porch roof with the baseball bat like she was trying to crush an army of ants. Boom! Boom! You could hear the ongoing battle down the hill and across a busy street.

Then she grabbed a shovel. She pushed the metal shovel over the flat roof like she was clearing off a skating rink. A skating rink 12 feet off the ground.

Holiday rain storms in Duluth were followed by more than 60 hours of sub-zero temperatures. The arctic blast had covered every flat surface in Duluth with a thick scab of ice.

The woman up the hill was taking advantage of a sudden January thaw to clear the mess off her front porch roof. Her only tools: A metal shovel and baseball bat.

I saw a car stop at the curb near the front porch.

A man opened the driver’s door and stood up. “Hey young lady, do you need a hand?”

The woman kept pushing the shovel. Ice chunks dropped over the gutter and onto the lawn. She shouted something back at him. The car engine buried the exchange. The man drove away and I could hear the woman muttered to herself: “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life….”

I went inside and grabbed my ice chipper off the porch. It had a long wood handle and a cast iron blade. The blade was imbedded with a message warning users to wear safety goggles. I walked up the hill, crossed the busy street and stood on the sidewalk.

The woman was still up there pounding away with the baseball bat.

“Hey, lady,” I yelled up like a barking dog. “Wanna use my ice chipper!?!”

I waved the thing over my head like Old Glory before a charge up Culp’s Hill.

She couldn’t hear me over all the pounding.

A couple more yells were drowned out by passing traffic noise.

Then the woman propped her shovel up against the wall and disappeared inside the house through a porch door.

There was noting more to be done. I walked back to the house using my ice chipper as if it were a cane.

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